Defend the Heart of the Fraser

The Fraser is a river of exceptional abundance, that right now faces an imminent threat.

Read on here, or cut to the chase and go to www.heartofthefraser.ca to learn more and take action!

The Heart of the Fraser, the stretch from Hope to Mission, sustains BC’s largest single salmon run. More than 10 million Pink salmon will often reproduce in the main channel of the Gravel Reach while some of North America’s largest runs of Sockeye salmon migrate annually through this corridor to spawn upriver. Chum salmon also spawn in the side channels while juvenile Chum and Chinook salmon feed along its gravel bars. All told, the Gravel Reach supports more than 30 species of fish. It has the largest population of white sturgeon in North America of any river corridor not influenced by dams.

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The list of species supported by this remarkable ecosystem goes on and on, seals, sea-lions, beaver, martin, bears, deer, cougar and coyote. Extensive bird populations include red-tail hawks, green and great blue herons, bald eagles and turkey vultures. It’s also home to amphibians such as the Oregon spotted frog, western red-backed salamander, and the Pacific giant salamander.

It is because of the Fraser that BC's Lower Mainland is the most populated and fastest growing region of the province. With the popularity of this region as a place to live, work, play, and raise our families, comes many development pressures that if not carefully balanced can undermine the very qualities of the region that are why we live here.

Right now the Heart of the Fraser faces an imminent threat. Carey and Herrling Islands were purchased from Kruger Pulp and Paper by developers that own construction and farming companies. The islands have been re-zoned from tree farming to agricultural. Agricultural zoning means that Streamside Protection Regulations that protect the riparian zones do not apply, and so no permits were needed for the extensive land clearing that has already taken place since the islands were purchased. Applications have been submitted to the Province to build bridges to Herrling and Carey Islands.

Disrupting the natural flood cycles of these wetland forest islands will affect their use as a nursery for billions of baby salmon every year, and prime spawning habitat for their parents, as well as for the rare and endangered white sturgeon. Flood protections that would be necessary for the proposed intensive agricultural use will diminish the natural ability of the river to spread during freshet, potentially increasing risk to downstream communities from flooding.

Carey Island is within the traditional territories of the Cheam, Kwaw'Kwaw'Apilt, Skwah and Sts'ailes First Nations. Herrling Island is within the traditional territories of Chawathil, Cheam, Kwaw'Kwaw'Apilt, Peters, Popkum, Shxw’ōwhámel, Skwah and Union Bar First Nations. These nations are currently participating in a government to government referrals process that only allows them to identify issues with the immediate footprint of the bridge project and not future implications.

Baby_coho_salmon_photocredit_Eiko_Jones_DSC7886_sm.jpgWe need to save the last precious habitat in the Heart of the Fraser.

Watershed Watch Salmon Society and other concerned organizations are taking the lead in campaigning to protect Carey and Herrling Islands. Learn more and please add your support to their petition at www.heartofthefraser.ca.

Too much of our natural wealth in this region has been degraded. It's time to Defend the Heart of the Fraser!

 

 

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